From vibrant blues and whites to subtle greens and yellows, these cities around the world are a feast of color for the eyes. We visit some of the most fascinating cities in the world on our adventures and want to share some of our favorites with you.
Jaipur and Jodhpur, India
If there is one country that celebrates the power of color, it’s India. Every year since the 7th century, the vibrant Holi festival sweeps across the nation in a cloud of brightly hued powder. If you’ve seen the photos, you know what I mean.
In India’s state of Rajasthan, we explore not one, but two colorful cities on our Royal Rajasthan journey.
Jaipur, the capital of Rajasthan, is a remarkable ancient city of palaces and fortresses of famed “pink” sandstone architecture. We visit Jaipur’s City Palace and the iconic Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds). Hawa Mahal is actually not a palace at all, but a five-story facade of more than 900 ornately decorated sandstone windows built so that the women of the royal family could look out over the street scene of the city but not be seen. We also experience the blue city of Jodhpur, where lively spice and textile markets juxtapose against azure and sapphire-toned buildings.
When you think of Morocco, swirling images of medieval medinas, rose-colored spices, and sunset-hued sand of the Sahara comes to mind, but if you find yourself in Chefchaoen, you’ll be surprised to find the entire city, from floor to rooflines, awash with bright blue. Chefchaouen is strikingly Andalusian in flavor—a vision of what Spain’s Andalusian villages looked like centuries ago. The village has steep, narrow streets, red-tiled roofs, ornate fountains, and houses with elaborately decorated doors. During our Southern Spain to Morocco tour, we wander through the narrow streets of the Chefchaouen medina and meet the Berber-speaking inhabitants in their shops and market stalls.
Norway may be known for its dramatic fjords and minimalist architecture, but it also has some colorful accommodations in epic locations. On our Hiking Norway’s Lofoten Islands and Beyond journey, we overnight in rorbuers (converted fisherman’s cottages), small huts situated partly on stilts over the water to allow easy access to fishing boats. In these simple but colorful accomodations, we get to enjoy the harbrside vistas like the local fishermen do.
Saksun, Faroe Islands
There are some places that look straight out of a fairytale, and it doesn’t get any more mythic than the village of Saksun on the island of Streymoy. This village, with a population of about nine people, has a small white church, and sits surrounded by high mountains, spectacular waterfalls, and a sandy lagoon, giving it a mystical feel. We explore this lovely little village as well as its neighboring islands on our Hiking the Faroe Islands trip.
Known as the “Island of the Winds,” Mykonos fulfills that picture-perfect dream of Greece with its dazzling sapphire seas and bright whitewashed buildings. During our Hiking in the Greek Isles trip, we see the iconic windmills of Chora, savor lunch at a delightful local taverna, and stretch our legs with a walk to take in the breathtaking sea views or go for a dip in a turquoise cove.
For an even larger dose of the Greek aesthetic, heat out on our Santorini Island Extension, with its domed churches, whitewashed houses with blue doors, and verandas spilling over with flowers. It’s the ideal place to sip a glass of wine and watch the sunset over the island’s mesmerizing blue caldera.
The city of Menton has a decidedly Mediterranean flair, and you can feel its warm atmosphere just by looking at its golden buildings. The city is known for its lemons (hello limoncello!), and it is said that Menton sees 316 sunny days per year, which makes it a popular, but not posh, Riviera destination. On our Mont Blanc to the Mediterranean hiking adventure, we finish our GR 5 trail in Menton and take a well-earned swim from the beach in front of our hotel.
Red Square Plaza, Moscow, Russia
If you want a sense of Russia’s history and culture in one place, venture into Moscow’s Red Square. Home to the towering Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral, this famous square was built under Ivan III in the 15th century to become a trading center. In 1920, traders were banned from the square, and in the 1960s, automobile traffic was banned. The most renowned building in the square (and the country) is the multi-domed St. Basil’s Cathedral, built between 1555 and 1561 to celebrate Ivan the Terrible’s conquering of the Tatar stronghold of Kazan. It is named after Vasily, the “holy fool” who predicted that Ivan would murder his own son. We begin our Russia: The Land of the Czars adventure at this very place.
Some may know Dubrovnik as the location for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones or Canto Bight in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but we know the southern gem of Croatia for its medieval charm. Our Montenegro and the Adriatic Coast journey ends in Dubrovnik, where you can extend your trip to stroll the cobbled streets, visit Baroque churches, and walk the ancient walls that have protected the city for centuries. For a more active option, take a panoramic trail hike where you can watch the low light of sunset reflect on the ancient stone buildings.
On our Discovering Peru and Bolivia adventure, we explore the colonial town of Arequipa, a UNESCO World Heritage City graced by its beautifully preserved colonial architecture of white volcanic stone. This historic city was named “One of the Best Places to Travel in 2020” by Travel & Leisure magazine. Head out on foot to explore Arequipa’s acclaimed colonial quarter, with its cobbled streets and 17th century buildings faced in white stone derived from the lava of Peru’s largest active volcano, El Misti (19,101’).
Up until now, we have focused on monochromatic cities, but we would be amiss if we didn’t include cities that, well, include all the colors. On our Tuscany and Cinque Terre walking trip, we head up and over rocky trails and through flourishing vineyards and gardens, enjoying fantastic vistas of the sea as we hike to Vernazza, the most photogenic of the Cinque Terre towns, with its tiny harbor and central piazza lined with restaurants and cafes. Vernazza is free of car traffic and full of architectural charm. It’s the perfect place to stop for a rest and a coffee (we recommend the local caffè freddo, espresso shaken with ice and sugar).
Some may think Greenland is all snow and ice, but the cities themselves are surprisingly colorful. Our Greenland Wildlife and Nature Safari heads to the bustling fishing community of Ilulissat, 150 miles north of the Arctic Circle, where colorful houses are set at the mouth of the colossal Kangia Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We’ll learn about the polar explorer Knud Rasmussen at the Ilulissat Museum, and later enjoy dinner in town before setting out on a “midnight” cruise past the 150-foot high cliffs of the most active glacier in Greenland, and the one that is said to have spawned the iceberg that sank the Titanic.